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Coordinators Discuss Season Opener, Offensive and Defensive Units

Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael and Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo met with the media following practice on Friday to preview the season opener against the Washington Redskins


New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael

Post-Practice Media Availability

Friday, September 7, 2012

There has only been one part of this offense that has changed in terms of player movement and that is the addition of Ben Grubbs. Would it be fair to say that expectations are the same going into this season as last year?

"Well I think offensively, since we've been here, we've always had high expectations for ourselves. We've built this program over six years and we are going to do what we've been doing. Ben is just a piece of the puzzle now, so we are ready to roll."

Is it realistic to say that the offense could pick up where it left off or does it take time?

"I think this; it is a new year, so every year you expect something different but we have set our goals offensively. This is the first game, we'll see how it goes and we'll build from there."

Teams are probably going to find different ways to defend Jimmy Graham. When you were designing plays did you take that into account?

"The one thing about Drew Brees that he does so well, is that he is going to find the open guy. And so, going into this game for us there is a little unknown as to what they are going to do defensively being the first game. We just go in and it's about what we know as an offense here and what are our plays that we know by heart and to go out and execute those and feel like Drew (Brees) will find his completion."

How much input does Drew Brees have in play calling?

"(He has) a lot. He spends, just like all of us (coaches) all week, preparing and watching video and then by the end of the week, starting today and tomorrow, getting together with us as an offensive staff and letting us know what he feels comfortable with what is in the game plan"

Has that changed from last year to this year?

"I think he has always been vocal. I don't know how much more he can be. Since the beginning, come Friday that is when he spends his time reviewing the overall game plan and on Saturday nights what we call staring the plays that he likes for the game the next day."

If its fourth and one and you are on the Redskins 40 who makes the call? Coach Kromer said it was a collaborative effort but how quickly can you do that?

"I would say that a lot of times depending on the situation of the game you might be thinking, hey this is going to be four down territory so you are going to have a call ready to go. As an offensive coordinator you should have a call ready to go every time and feel like we have something good for that situation. It will be Aaron (Kromer) first saying, 'how do you guys feel about this going for this and do we have a good call?' It will be a collaborative effort."

In your years here, how do you think Coach Payton has influenced you as play caller?

"Really, I had the opportunity for five plus years to sit and watch him and see how he did things. (I got to see) how he ran the meetings early on in the first couple of years here. For me, it was to sit and listen and take in every word that I could and writing it down, knowing that he was successful in the way that he did it."

Do you think when Coach Payton is watching the games personally that he thinks he wouldn't have called that play?

"I'm hoping that he is not saying that too often, but when he gets back I'm sure that he will have some advice for us."

Do you have to think in your head what would Sean Payton do here?

"I think that the way that this program has been built and the system that we feel as an offensive staff that we think this is where he would go and we are just trying to follow what he would do."

When you look at a guy like Jermon Bushrod and how well he did last year, do you think that he feels that he doesn't have to work as hard?

"I don't that that we have any players on this team that would think, "I made the Pro Bowl so I don't have to work at it", I think we've got a great group of guys that we have always had an outstanding offseason program here. I don't worry about that with anybody or Jermon (Bushrod) in particular."

What do you like about Ben Grubbs so far?

"He is a veteran so he comes in and it is just learning some new terminology for him, but he is smart. He is an NFL veteran so he understands the little techniques that he might have to use to get some things done. And obviously, Aaron (Kromer) has done a great job with him of getting him ready for this. We like everything we see about him."

How difficult do you think it is for him to jump into an offense being the one new thing?

"I think this; our offensive line does a great job communicating among themselves. It is a real tight knit group, so I think that when he came in, they just accepted him right away and he just went without missing a beat."

Do you notice Drew Brees pushing Jimmy Graham? Do you notice a difference in Jimmy Graham from this year to last year?

"I think Drew (Brees) does that with everybody. He finds the time to make sure whatever routes these guys are running that he is with them. He is talking to them and making sure that they are all on the same page come Sunday. Jimmy (Graham) is one of those guys that wants to do everything exactly like he is being coached and exactly like Drew (Brees) wants him to do it. The season hasn't started yet so we will see where he is at."

What does Jimmy Graham have to do to get better this year?

"I think anyone can always get better. There are always little things, maybe some technique that he can use to get better, particularly in his routes, maybe using some technique to separate from man coverage or something along those lines. He has worked hard at the run game. He is a physical player. He is not afraid, so it is really some technique things."

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo

Post-Practice Media Availability

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Redskins have not shown much offensively in the preseason. How do you prepare for Robert Griffin III?

"It's a little bit of a guessing game. But, we have gone back and looked at him and what he did at Baylor. You can see he's athletic. We had to be a little bit creative with some of the plays we did this week. But, we certainly anticipate that he's going to run the football a little bit."

Who does he remind you of from a skill set?

"It's funny, we had played Washington when we were in St. Louis all three years, but Donovan McNabb was there in 2010. I certainly still have a lot of respect for Donovan. He wasn't same in 2010 as when we had him in '01 (in Philadelphia). There's a similarity there and that's probably the one I'm most familiar with. That's a big-time compliment to both of them really, because they're both really athletic."

Is the big deal to not forget that the guy can throw the ball down the field?

"Yes and Donovan proved that over a number of years certainly. This guy can throw it. They've shown that in preseason. They've had him throwing the ball quite a bit in the preseason and he has a strong arm. You knew that coming out. I don't think anybody doubts that he has a strong arm."

Is there anything you could learn from preseason about him?

"I kept it simple like a lot of people did. They ran movement passes. Boots, nakeds, we call them, a lot of play action. That's always been coach Shanahan. All of those things looked familiar from the times that we've coached against him. Those are the packages. I can guarantee you and this is what you're alluding to is there are going to be some wrinkles that have not shown up on film yet."

Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne have missed some time. How comfortable do you feel with them?

"Certainly in a new system there is concern there, but both of these guys are pros. They've stayed on top of it. They've received a number of reps this week. We aren't sure where we're at. Everyday it's with the trainers with Scottie (Patton) deciding how they feel after day one, after day two, day three. So we will see where they are at on Sunday."

How will you evaluate the play of the defensive line?

"By whether we win the game or not. I'm kidding when I say that, but the bottom line is winning the football game. It will be like every game is. Defensively and the d line knows this, you have to stop the run first. They have to help us on play action passes, because the guy (Robert Griffin III) can get out of the pocket and extend the down. There's a challenge for the defensive line here with the run scheme they have no question. If we're not good on the perimeter, I'm talking about defensive ends, we'll struggle, so I think they know what they're up against. I think they know what the challenge is. We'll find out at the end of the game if they're up to it."

Along those lines of being a quarterback who can run and throw and how Cam Newton threw a lot initially, is any of that trying to possibly give an element of surprise?

"It's a good point. I don't know anything about that particular game. I don't even know how they played. I can see that happening. You focus on one thing, they beat you in another phase. We have to play this game and do what we do more so than worrying about what they do. I've always said this about first games in the NFL and first games of any season; It's the game within the game that's going to be more important. We've already said it that they are going to run things we've already seen. There are a couple of things that we'll run that they haven't. With it, there will be adjustment and if we do it pretty well, we'll have some success."

Is more made out of running quarterbacks now for some reason? Both Cameron Jordan and Curtis Lofton said they faced them a lot in college.

"Yes, it creates a whole new dynamic from the perspective of defending them. I do think it's challenging and I think guys around the league, you certainly see it in colleges with quarterbacks running and all the throwing that they do."

Are teams more used to facing it now because they've seen it so much?

"It probably (with more running quarterbacks in the NFL) makes sense. You played against wing t teams when I was coaching in college. If you saw more wing t teams, you got better at it. So, maybe there's some truth to that. (Wing t) is a northeast term Pete (Carmichael) and I are familiar with. Delaware ran the wing t."

When did you start studying Robert Griffin III?

"Way back when the schedule came out and obviously we knew. We knew we were playing them. We were knee deep in just getting our defense put in early, but then certainly the focus went to Washington, because it was the opening game as soon as the schedules came out."

How much are you trying to predict about what plays they will run with him and if ?

"The one thing we're trying to predict here is if they (Redskins) will have him doing things he did in college. That's not showing up in preseason games right now. There's a little bit of unknown and within the game we're going to have to make adjustments

Is that fun?

"It is. It's a challenge now. I'm not going to lie to you. It would be nice to know exactly what they are going to do and work on it all week. But, we're going to have to do some in-game adjustments. I'm sure Pete (Carmichael) will tell you the same thing. There's going to be some things they are going be doing on defense and they're going to be adjusting on the sideline. We'll be doing the same thing and hopefully we have enough of a foundation defensively to go to things where we can take away what they're doing. But, sometimes you can't take away some of the things those rare athletes can do."

Do you have a sense for what was missing from last year's defense in terms of big plays?

"I honestly haven't gone there. I've been looking at what we're building here. We're not looking backwards. We're just hopeful that we can function in the system we have now and do it effectively quite honestly."
How do you hope to increase that interception number?

"I'm not focused on interceptions. We talk about turnovers. It's anyway we can get the ball back to Pete (Carmichael) and Drew (Brees) and let them do their thing. That's what we'll do. If it's three and out and we get them to punt the ball, that's good too. We'd love to have interceptions and turnovers. That's the number one stat in the NFL. Everybody's heard it that correlates most to winning football games, so we focus on it. But, I think there's a lot more to playing good defense and helping the team win. First and foremost, it's limit the points allowed. Defensively, it's about limiting the points allowed. However you do that to me, it doesn't matter how you get it done. If you can keep it at a minimum, hopefully we'll score enough points to win."

Understanding how personnel dictates things, how much of this defense is your team and gives you what you'd like to do?

"Nothing's mine. I'll be honest. We don't use that word. We have a group of guys here, players and coaches that are trying to put something together. What's exciting about it is we'll find out where we're at. You'll find out a certain amount of where your team is and where you are in phases in the preseason games, but there's a whole other learning curve from coaching standpoints and everybody's standpoint once you get into the regular season. It's a whole different speed. We'll know a lot about our football team and defense after this first game and hopefully whatever jump we need to take from game one to game two, we take."

Coach Shanahan brought in speakers to replicate the Mercedes-Benz Superdome noise. Does it make a difference to your defense and do you consider the crowd noise an asset to the defense?

"I haven't been here. I think the guys would tell you that. It's challenging being on defense in this dome, because that's when it gets loud. There's a lot of communication that we have to function with in the game. We worked on noise too. I'd be curious to see who had the loudest speakers, them in Washington or us here. It is something you have to be concerned with and we functioned in practice with some noise as well."

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